USFNation Game Grades: USF at PITT

USF played their last game of the season last Saturday, and the Bulls dominated Pittsburgh 48-37. It was their first win playing under 40 degrees temperature. Now see how the staff at USFNation graded each position's performance.

Sorry I'm a little late this week. Does going to the dentist always correlate with becoming sick immediately? Seems very odd.


Needless to say Saturday's 48-37 victory over Pitt(sburgh) was one of the most important in the further development of the USF football program for a couple of reasons.


·          It was a road win against a team that USF should beat.


·          It was in chilly, unfavorable outdoor conditions that probably hampered some of USF's speed.


·          It gives USF back-to-back 9-win seasons.


·          USF has left and re-entered the Top 25 meaning that voters are starting to warm up to the program as a legitimate team that will contend in the top quarter percentile.


·          I also believe that nationally, the media is ready to accept USF as a contender, even more so than UConn or Cincinnati. They have a respect for the talent in Florida and believe that the Bulls can put as much talent on the field as anyone.


From a recruiting standpoint, I expect USF to bring in another strong class of kids who might be a little underrated but have a great desire to succeed and prove the doubters wrong. I also expect them to bring in 2-3 kids that have a higher profile on the national scene and recognize the potential USF has to win the Big East and play in a BCS Bowl.


Right now USF isn't at the level where they can recruit the kids that are choosing between LSU, Florida, Oklahoma, USC, Texas, etc., but they are in that next highest tier, the tier of athletes that have put Missouri and West Virginia one step away from the national title game.


The other big news is USF is Sun Bowl Bound! El Paso baby! This is a good bowl as the Sun Bowl is one of the oldest in the Bowl system and it will give USF a nice $1.5 million dollar payout. It's also great exposure for the program to play out west and to play a West Coast team.


On to the grades


QUARTERBACK (A-): Yes Matt Grothe had a turnover and didn't really light up the skies passing or anything....but he had an 80-yard touchdown run!! How often does a quarterback not named Vince Young or Tommie Frazier bust off an 80-yarder? Not often and to be honest, I will say that was the offensive play of the year for USF. Grothe only threw for 159 yards and was sacked five times, but he completed 17-of-23 passes and managed the game well as USF held a 4-minute time of possession advantage in the second half.


RUNNING BACK (B-): Mike Ford just needs to hold on to the football better. If he can do that, he'll be one of the top running backs in the conference next year. Ford rushed for 63 tough yards on a horrible field. His 3.9 average per carry wasn't great, but it was sufficient. Benjamin Williams got some quality carries as well. Sam Miller's 29-yard burst on a fake punt gets credited to the special teams. Sorry guys. Aston Samuels didn't get a carry on a reverse this week.


WIDE RECEIVERS (C+): It was tough for the receivers to do much today as the broken field didn't yield many big plays. That being said seven different receivers caught passes and the unit did a good job of blocking. Kudos to tight end Cedric Hill who had the longest gain on a pass play (27 yards) and was the lead blocker on Grothe's 80-yard touchdown.


OFFENSIVE LINE (C+): Five sacks and the lowest offensive output in two months tells me this group had a tough time with the field conditions. On the positive side, the run blocking was there at times and allowed for two long touchdown runs and when Grothe had time to throw, he was accurate. Overall you  add in a couple penalties and it was one of those days that the unit slightly underperformed.


OFFENSIVE COACHING (B): Nothing terribly offensive but nothing outstanding. Outside of the four "3-and-outs", I think the offensive coaches called a smart game plan given the field conditions.


DEFENSIVE LINE (B): The defensive line was responsible for two sacks, two quarterback hurries and four tackles for losses. They also did a solid job of bottling up Pittsburgh's running game, holding the Panthers to under three yards per carry. Allen Cray had a sack and two tackles for loss to lead the unit.


LINEBACKERS (A): Tyrone McKenzie was a beast with 18 tackles! Ben Moffitt wasn't far behind with 10 tackles and a 60-yard interception return that he was THIS CLOSE to scoring on. It was a banner day for a unit that has delivered all season long.


DEFENSIVE BACKS (A-): Two interception returns for touchdowns highlight what kind of day this unit had. Mike Jenkins was named All-American but Trae Williams had another touchdown and Nate Allen, one of the most steady performers on the defense, also had a pick six. The group did give up a lot of yards passing but they covered any mistakes with touchdowns.


SPECIAL TEAMS (B+): Delbert Alvarado had a perfect day and Sam Miller executed a perfect run on a fake punt that even left Leavitt tickled about how well it worked. Marcus Edwards had a nice punt return that set up a score as well. The only negative was a 55-yard return on USF's kick coverage team.



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